A series of Amazon brand ambassador accounts that have been defending the company while trying to convince Twitter users that they’re definitely not bots are, in fact, run by real people, according to an Amazon spokesperson.
The accounts were discovered by Diana Wild, who tweeted at an official Amazon account demanding the company treat workers better. She received a response from a series of "Amazon Fulfillment Center Ambassadors" who told her: “Everything is fine,” “I am not a robot,” “We're not paid to say that we like our job,” and “Our job is [to] give out our experiences of working for Amazon. So the good experiences are being heard not just the bad.”
In one tweet that users found particularly strange, an ambassador named Hannah talked about having depression but not blaming Amazon for it.
The accounts all have clear similarities. They feature a photo of an Amazon employee, the location of the warehouse they work at, and the company’s yellow smile logo in the background. BuzzFeed News found 28 separate accounts, all but two of which were created in August 2018. The ambassadors were first reported on by TechCrunch that same month.
There’s another feature these brand ambassador profiles have in common — all of them are managed by Sprinklr, according to the Account Analysis tool. Sprinklr is a social media management platform that lists Amazon as one of its customers on its website. The official Amazon account also uses Sprinklr to send most of its tweets.
The open-source investigative website Bellingcat found a total of 53 ambassador accounts. Some of them featured employees using company laptops and computer centers, which is likely why most of the tweets were sent through Sprinklr.
It’s not clear how these accounts are used, and some of them seem to migrate between workers. One user — who goes by the name Hannah but has also used the names Ciera and Leo — posted photos of herself with other Amazon colleagues. Another user, Desiree, posted a video of herself on her last day as social media ambassador.
“Peeing in bottles? Really? Never was and never will be a thing at Amazon,” she says at the end of the video.
Last August, around the time the account was created, it tweeted, “My name is Thomas” along with a photo of an Amazon employee in a warehouse.
An Amazon spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that its fulfillment center brand ambassador accounts are run by real workers.
“These accounts are run by FC employees who understand what it’s actually like to work in our FCs,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News by email. When shown Desiree’s account and asked whether she’s a worker who’s writing and posting her own tweets, the spokesperson said, “That’s correct. Desiree is the one writing and sending the tweets.”
Amazon didn’t respond to questions about whether an employee gets paid for work as a brand ambassador, but one of the accounts said, “I get paid $15/hr whether I am answering tweets or out on the floor stowing. I do this 2 days a week and 2 days a week I stow.”
Initially, Amazon emailed BuzzFeed News the same statement it sent TechCrunch a year ago after the news outlet reported employees receiving a day off and a $50 gift card for their corporate advocacy work. The statement invited reporters to visit one of the company’s fulfillment centers.
“FC ambassadors are employees who work in our FCs and share facts based on personal experience,” it said. “It’s important that we do a good job educating people about the actual environment inside our fulfillment centers, and the FC ambassador program is a big part of that along with the FC tours we provide.”
This comes on the heels of Amazon tweeting and then deleting a positive story from Quillette, a website previously in the news for promoting the debunked phrenology theory. The company has been reeling from reports that employees had to skip bathroom breaks, were having mental breakdowns, and discouraged from unionizing. Its employees went on strike during Prime Day to protest poor working conditions. But you won’t hear about that from the Amazon fulfillment center brand ambassadors.